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With this project I want to create a more personal connection with trees in the neighborhood, specifically zooming in on the microcosmos of bark.

exbunker, expo

When going for a stroll through the park, enjoying the garden, or walking down the street you might notice the trees that you pass, but how much is really known about them? They might seem static, only changing their appearance in foliage, however trees are very much alive, growing and changing just like we are. 

To be able to see trees as individuals, we need to be aware of a different flow of time. Not the fast forward human timeflow, but a more slow and entangled view of time.

Every tree has their own experiences and stories. Even on the outermost layer of the tree, the bark, there is a lot going on. Not only the processes of the tree itself, but also of the other organisms living in this little world. For example the ants who construct some kind of highway on the trunk, as it being the home to many lichens and other organisms.

Looking at it in such a way, the tree becomes some kind of universe of its own. On a micro-level there is so much to explore. Something that seemed so static at first, suddenly reveals itself as a space with many hidden events.

And just like the way a fingerprint differentiates per person (by genetic influences as well as influences from the outside), so does the bark on each tree. Trees of the same species do have similarities in their bark’s pattern, but they are never identical to each other.

This has let me to make imprints of the twenty individuals that I've met during this project. They’re brought back to their visual core; a neutral-colored slab that has been molded from the tree’s bark. This way I want others to be able to look at the bark in a new way, free from expectations and biases. A moment of the tree’s time has been set in stone, like a molted skin or a petrified moment of time.

On the back of the pieces is a notation of the scientific name of the tree, the coordinates and the date on which the first imprint was made. This way the owner can visit the real tree, maybe even see that it has aged or changed. And if the tree is not around anymore, the piece functions as a kind of memorial stone. It’s a work that someone could take home and enjoy as an object in itself, but which also has a connection to a real tree standing somewhere.

This project was on view during the month of June in 2019 in the EXbunker gallery, at the Wilhelmina park in Utrecht. This shelter is a historical site, located in a nice park in the city of Utrecht. A fitting location for a project about trees, memories and connections. 

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